ISLAMABAD - Pakistan reduced subsidies by over 8 percent during previous financial year on the directions of International Monetary Fund (IMF), which put additional burden on the masses.

The government provided Rs459.3 billion as subsidies during the year 2014-2015 as against Rs502 billion of the preceding year 2013-2014, according to the official figures of the Ministry of Finance. The government had slashed the subsidies on the direction of IMF, which is continuously asking Pakistan to reduce subsidies to control the budget deficit.

According to the details, federal government slashed the subsidies to Rs260 billion in the year 2014-15 from Rs322.8 billion of its preceding year. Similarly, the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa government also reduced the subsidies to Rs6.8 billion from Rs25 billion. However, Punjab increased subsidy amount to Rs149 billion from Rs143.5 billion, Sindh enhanced it to Rs43.3 billion from Rs10.6 billion and subsidy amount surged by Rs358 billion in Balochistan from Rs60 million.

The PML-N government had adopted a policy to provide lesser subsidy since it assumed the charge in order to maintain fiscal discipline. Earlier, the government had brought down the subsidy amount to Rs502 billion in 2013-2014 from Rs556 billion of the financial year 2012-2013. The amount of subsidy was Rs689 billion in 2011-2012.

Pakistan is reducing power subsidy in particular. “We are committed to gradually reducing the effect that untargeted subsidies have on our budget while continuing to protect the most vulnerable consumers…consistent with our objective of reducing electricity subsidies further to 0.3pc of GDP for fiscal year 2015-16 and of addressing the circular debt,” Pakistan had given written assurance to the IMF.

Meanwhile, according to the figures, the government spending on Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) increased by over 11 percent during last financial year 2014-15 as compared to same period of the previous year. The federal and provincial governments spent Rs2162.7 billion on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) during last fiscal year compared to Rs1934.2 billion in the preceding year, an increase of 11.8 percent.

The break-up of Rs2162.7 billion on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) revealed that federal and provincial governments spent Rs118.9 billion on roads, highways and bridges during the fiscal year 2014-2015 as against Rs96.5 billion of preceding year registering an increase of 23 percent.

The federal and provincial governments have spent Rs598.3 billion on education sector during the year 2014-15 as against Rs537.6 billion on the corresponding period last year, witnessing an increase of over 11 percent in one year. Meanwhile, the federal and provincial governments have spent Rs231.71 billion on the health sector in the period under review compared to Rs202 billion during the same period last year showing an increase of over 14.44 percent in one year.

The documents further revealed that federal and provincial governments has spent Rs32.8 billion on social security and social welfare, Rs33.2 billion on natural calamities and other disasters and expenditure on agriculture rose to Rs200 billion. Federal and provincial govts have spent Rs5.2 billion on land reclamation, Rs29.2 billion on rural development, Rs25.8 billion on justice administration during period under review.

The government’s spending on low housing schemes surged to Rs2.8 billion from Rs1.6 billion.

The spending on Benazir Income Support Programme had enhanced to Rs89.9 billion during the previous financial year 2014-2015 from Rs67.8 billion of the preceding year, showing an increase of over 32 percent. Meanwhile, the spending of Pakistan Bait-ul-Maal had increased to Rs2.2 billion in the year 2014-2015 from Rs1.9 billion of the year 2013-2014.